Contributed by Mark Jackson, Naples
I grew up in the South Hills of Pittsburgh, and in the 70’s there were a ton of old cars and hot rods. About that time, there was a silver '68 Camaro being built down the street from my house by a guy I only knew of, but I did know the guy who painted the car as he dated a friend of my sister. They put a lot of work into the Camaro with the paint designs by pulling the body off the sub-frame and painting multi-color stripes over the hood, trunk, and under the gas tank, rear end, floors, and firewall. The Camaro had two engines, both real DZ302’s; one painted blue micro flake (the whole car was painted with micro flake and I always wished they’d have used regular full-size metal flake) and the “race motor” painted flat black. The race motor was 13:1, decked block (there went the “DZ” stamp), full roller, gear drive, tunnel ram, dual Holleys, studded, everything x-rayed, etc.) which is the one that was in the car the last time it was seen. I remember seeing the Camaro when I was about 12-13 years old at the time, and I could only dream and drool.
I occasionally (but pretty rarely) used to see the Camaro when I went by the shop but after going to college, getting married, divorced, and moving to Florida, I lost complete knowledge of the car for probably 30+ years, but I never forgot about it. So, against all odds and just for my own wonderment, I posted a question of whether anyone remembered the car with a description just to see if anyone knew whatever happened to it. No responses online except for a guy who happened to know the original builder and painter, and we discussed the car but he didn't know whatever happened to it either, as the original owner, Norm, had passed away quite some time ago. At the time, the guy I knew who co-built and painted the car (Steve “Hugo” Dobos wanted to buy it, but Norm’s wife said, “I hate that car and I hate you” and she wouldn’t sell it to him. It seemed like the end of the line for the Camaro. There were even rumors that she poisoned Norm as he was relatively young when he passed away.
But, about 4 years ago, I got tagged in a Facebook response to my post about the car, and someone I barely knew stated that he saw a similarly painted Camaro on eBay. Sure enough, when I looked at the link, there it was, looking almost just like it as I remembered it from 1978-1983 or thereabouts. So after talking it over with the wife, doing some creative juggling of finances and bargaining with the current owner in Indiana, I was able to buy it. It was delivered a week and 1/2 later and it looks like there was some paintwork done to it, and there's at least one spot that could use some bodywork but for the most part, it's pretty solid. The Camaro was pretty much destined to be an ISCA show car from the start and it still looked close to how I remembered.
Once I got it, I started to go through the mechanics of it but also started driving it to local shows and cruises however the car just never ran the way it should have and I ended up losing a valve in the 302 so now I’m in the process of figuring out what to do about a new motor. To me, the car always screamed for a blower, but we’re getting ready to sell our house and build a new one so it’s more or less on hold. I may just build a 383 for it for now. And, it also needs some required items like seat belts, power steering, and disc brakes that I want to get done sometime. The 4 wheel drums are interesting to drive with; let’s just say you need to plan ahead in traffic. My one car show buddy always tells me it’s a Real Man’s car with manual drums and manual steering, lol. Sorry so long, but I thought I'd share the back story to give you an idea of what the car means to me. Here are how the car looks today; I think it’s held up pretty well over the years, and it has about 20,200 miles.